UFC on ESPN 3 - Breakdown & Predictions
When is UFC on ESPN 3? Sunday 30th June, 2019 - 01:00 start (UK)
Where is UFC on ESPN 3? Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
What channel is UFC on ESPN 3 on? BT Sport 1
Where can I stream UFC on ESPN 3? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT Sport website
For viewers in the United States, the event will be shown live and you can take advantage of a free trial with ESPN+ and subscribe now by clicking here!
Are tickets still available for UFC on ESPN 3? https://www.ufc.com/tickets
Francis Ngannou vs Junior dos Santos
The two most devastating hitters in MMA finally meet to headline the UFC on ESPN 3 card. Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou and Junior ‘Cigano’ dos Santos return to separate each other from consciousness and move one step closer to another heavyweight title shot.
Ngannou is back to his old predatory self after losing his first two UFC fights last year. The champion at the time, Stipe Miocic, put on a clinic to stifle Ngannou earning a dominant decision win as well as ripping out his confidence. Ngannou went on to fight Derrick Lewis but both sluggers were hesitant to throw anything, creating one of the most anticlimactic fights in memory.
However, Ngannou bounced back and applied his kiss of death to two of the best wrestlers in the division, Curtis Blaydes and Cain Velasquez, but will now welcome a fellow Boxer to the dance.
Dos Santos is not only one of the most powerful but one of the most technical boxers in the division. The former champion has been in there with the very best which means he has absorbed a serious amount of damage over the years but is in fine form with three wins in a row. He outclassed Blagoy Ivanov in a decision and knocked out Tai Tuivasa and Lewis in vintage fashion.
This fight has the same anticipation as the Ngannou vs Lewis edition but will surely live up to expectation. Ngannou has his mojo back and dos Santos never hesitates to pull the trigger and, with a potential title shot on the line, leather will be exchanged.
It is safe to say five rounds will not be required. They are top-of-the-food-chain strikers and have the power to turn the lights off with one strike, it will only be a matter of time before one of these beasts connects. ‘Cigano’ is better technically and considerably more well-rounded but that will count for nothing when ‘The Predator’ lands.
Winner: Ngannou via KO/TKO
Jussier Formiga vs Joseph Benavidez
Two of the best flyweights in the world meet again after their 2013 scrap and although the division is completely up in the air now, that won’t stop Jussier Formiga from seeking vengeance over perennial top contender Joseph Benavidez.
Since losing to Benavidez, Formiga has gone 8-2 in the UFC, losing to Henry Cejudo and Ray Borg. The Brazilian is now on a four-fight winning streak, submitting Ben Nguyen and Ulka Sasaki before earning unanimous decisions over Sergio Pettis and Deiveson Figueiredo, pushing him up to #1 spot in the rankings.
That spot that has seemingly always been occupied by Benavidez until injuries forced him on to the side lines. After scraping past the current champion Henry Cejudo in December 2016, Benavidez returned after 18 months and looked rusty in losing a decision to Pettis. However, he has begun to regain his form with a TKO over Alex Perez and a unanimous decision over Dustin Ortiz.
This is going to be a fast-paced tactical battle. Formiga is a phenomenal grappler as a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo earning 10 submission wins and, with zero knockouts on his win record, it is clear where the threat lies.
Benavidez has always been one of the most well-rounded flyweights in the world and is an excellent grappler himself but he will be wise to keep the fight on the feet with a clear speed and technical advantage.
This is likely to go to a decision and if Benavidez can avoid any mistakes and prevent ending up on his back, he will have the class to outpoint the Brazilian.
Winner: Benavidez via Decision
Demian Maia vs Rocco Martin
Anthony ‘Rocco’ Martin is surging up towards the rankings by displaying his exceptional grappling skills but the litmus test in grappling is surviving a fight with arguably the best submission artist in MMA – Demian Maia.
After strangling his way to a title shot with a seven-fight winning streak, Maia met Tyron Woodley who drew out the blueprint in how to subdue the submission wizard. Unable to offer much threat, he lost a unanimous decision and suffered the same fate against elite wrestlers, Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman. He was then handed a striker, Lyman Good and got back to old choking ways with a first-round submission.
‘Rocco’ is in the form of his life after four impressive wins. He earned a unanimous decision over Keita Nakamura before pulling off the first knockout of his career against Ryan LaFlare. He then submitted Jake Matthews and earned another decision over Sergio Moraes to thoroughly earn a big-name fight.
‘Rocco’ can wrestle but much to Maia’s relief, he is not on the same level as the likes of Woodley, Covington and Usman and he will go about his usual business of trying to get the fight to the ground and into his domain.
‘Rocco’ is deadly on the mat but he is not on the same level as Maia and will want to make the fight as scrappy as possible. He will try and ignite a brawl which Maia can easily get suckered in to.
Providing Maia doesn’t get caught with any wild strikes he should be able to control the fight but ‘Rocco’s’ grappling is good enough to avoid the finish.
Winner: Maia via Decision
Roosevelt Roberts vs Vinc Pichel
Roosevelt Roberts makes his third UFC appearance and is looking to stretch his unbeaten record but Vinc Pichel is out to prove there are no easy rides in the lightweight division.
Roberts looks like a very exciting talent. He submitted Garrett Gross on Dana White’s Contender Series and repeated the feat on his UFC debut against Darrell Horcher and is coming off a hard-fought decision over Thomas Gifford, proving he can grind out a victory.
Pichel is a connoisseur of the grind and his only two losses were against elite wrestlers. After getting ragdolled by Rustam Khabilov he strung together four impressive wins but fell victim to one of the best wrestlers in the division in Gregor Gillespie and was eventually submitted.
Roberts is clearly dangerous on the feet and on the ground so Pichel will need a well-executed strategy to subdue the threat and pick up the win. He does not have any submission wins but he can grapple and he is likely to use his experience to take the fight away from the young up and comer with takedowns.
Winner: Pichel via Decision
Drew Dober vs Marco Polo Reyes
Drew Dober and Marco Polo Reyes are both coming off losses but head to Minneapolis confident of picking up a win and proving they are still a threat in the stacked lightweight division.
Dober makes his 13th UFC appearance and looks to put that experience to good use. His last three losses have been submissions but he has always responded well. After getting submitted by Olivier Aubin-Mercier, he went on an impressive run, beating Josh Burkman, Frank Camacho and Jon Tuck but is now looking to bounce back once again after losing against Beneil Dariush.
Reyes has been knocked out twice in his last three fights courtesy of James Vick and Damir Hadzovic in his last outing but he has looked very exciting and boasts UFC knockouts over Cesar Arzamendia, Dong Hyun Ma and Matt Frevola.
Reyes will come out aggressive in search of another knockout but Dober’s experience will be crucial to weathering the storm. Dober is extremely well-rounded and with a background in Muay Thai, he will back his stand-up to find a knockout of his own. Dober is also a solid grappler and he will use all his tools and experience to find the win.
Winner: Dober via Decision
Alonzo Menifield vs Paul Craig
The main card for UFC ESPN on 3 kicks off with two light heavyweight lumps who don’t do decisions as Alonzo Menifield and Paul Craig head to Minneapolis to add another finish to their records.
Menifield is a behemoth of a man and has blitzed through eight of his opponents so far. He earned an opportunity on Dana White’s Contender Series after picking up his first submission and seized it spectacularly with an eight-second TKO over Dashawn Boatright. He then continued his assault on his UFC debut with another TKO over Vinicius Moreira.
Craig continues to build his experience but keeps stumbling into animals in the division. After getting starched by Tyson Pedro and Khalil Rountree, he pulled off a last-second submission over Magomed Ankalaev but was submitted himself against the unbeaten Jimmy Crute. He got back to his submitting ways in his last fight with another triangle choke over Kennedy Nzechukwu but he has been assigned another up-and-coming fighter.
Craig has to try and get the fight to the floor. Menifield can grapple but Craig will make quick work of him on the mat but he is likely to suffer the same fate as Moreira.
The Brazilian managed to clinch up with Menifield but could not match his power and drag him to the canvas and with a moment of space was eventually put to bed with a blistering right hand.
We can rest assured the judges will not be needed and if Craig can’t secure a takedown it will be goodnight for the Scotsman.
Winner: Menifield via KO/TKO
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric.